While many point to the end of the calendar year as the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, those folks are clearly not sports fans. While the yule log, spiked eggnog and massive amount are nice, they do not compare to the last week of October and the first week of November.
Several years ago the World Series got kicked back a little bit. Now the baseball season overlaps with the NFL,college football, CFL and MLS for a two solid months. Add in the start of the NHL and NBA regular seasons and you have got sports on seven days a week.
After Halloween, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) starts playing football games during the week which means that there is football on seven days a week. Add this to the NFL games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday and it can be easy to see why some people get ‘football overload’ and turn to something else.
While the Holiday Season is great, it does not compare to this time of year. From the World Series to pivotal college football games to the MLS playoffs. The games this time of year are more important than the ones during the Holiday’s. So enjoy the Indian Summer some of you are getting and enjoy the sports overload.
With growing wealth comes investments overseas. The Guardian recently did a piece on the new Chinese owners breaking into the English football. It also means that there is money to spend. It sounds eerily familiar to the early days of MLS in a lot of ways with the signing of big names if for nothing else but the publicity and ticket sales but with the long range goal of building a competitive league.
Rooney is a bit of a different animal. There is a lot of top level soccer left in him. While China may be able to offer an overly exuberant amount of money but MLS isn’t exactly sitting on it’s hands when it comes to spending money. Plus several of Rooney’s former England teammates have made successful moves to MLS (Beckham, Gerrard, Cole).
MLS is over the big name signing for the sake of doing it. Now it’s about how that player fits into what the team is already doing or what they want to do on the pitch. China may not have learned that lesson as of yet which could give MLS a key advantage over China when it comes to luring a player like Rooney.
Bottom line, could Rooney make his way to MLS? Absolutely but it will not be an easy decision to leave Manchester United no matter how much money someone like Paulson may throw at him. It’s also clear that MLS and other leagues have a new bidder at the table when it comes to top flight talent and that is China.
Baylor vs Kansas – 4pm ESPN2: The Big 12 tournament kicks into high gear.
Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning – 4:30pm NHL.TV: Flyers are agonizingly close to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference while the Lightning are battling it out for one of the top seeds.
Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls – 5pm NBA.TV: The Heat lead the Southeastern division while the Bulls have fallen off a bit but are still a dangerous group.
Anaheim Ducks at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL.TV: The Ducks have been come down to Earth after winning something like 10 in a row. Both are playoff bound. Expect some excellent hockey in this one.
Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars – 5:30pm NHLN: These two are tied for the top spot in the Western Conference and on top of the Central. Both are two of the top teams in the entire league.
Oklahoma vs West Virginia – 6pm ESPN2: OU may have the Big 12 player of the year (Buddy Hield) and swept the season series but pay no mind to that. Bob Huggins will have his team ready to play and they are still a top 10 team mind you.
Arizona vs Oregon – 6pm PAC12: Oregon is trying to lock up a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament but Arizona needs a win to improve their seeding too.
Portland Trailblazers at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm NBA League Pass: You want to watch this one just to see what Steph Curry and Damian Lillard are going to do to one up each other.
Saturday March 12th
NY Islanders at Boston Bruins – 10am NHL.TV: A little morning hockey with two playoff bound teams.
New England Revolution vs DC United – Noon MLS.TV: These two were at the top of the Eastern Conference standings last season. Good early season matchup.
Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors – 4pm NBA League Pass: Talk about tough back-to-back road games for the Heat. First Chicago and then up to the Great White North. That’s just mean.
Sporting KC vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 5:30pm MLS.TV: SKC looks to lay out the unwelcome mat for the Caps. Both should be a force in the Western Conference again.
Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs – 5:30pm ABC: Probably the only two teams who have a legit chance of knocking off the Warriors when it comes playoff time. Durant, Duncan, Westbrook, Parker and of course the media mogul Poppovich.
St Louis Blues at Dallas Stars – 6pm NHLN: Both are looking to unseat the Blackhawks in the Central and claim the top spot. They should both be pretty sick and tired of each other by this point of the season. Sprinkle in the back side of back-to-back games and it could get nasty out there.
Washington Capitals at San Jose Sharks – 7:30pm NHL.TV: The Caps look to close out the brutal west coast road trip with a win in the shark tank.
Sunday March 13th
Pittsburgh Penguins at NY Rangers – 9:30am NBC: Sidney Crosby and the Pens look to give themselves some breathing room when it comes to the playoff race. The Rangers are strong and will be strong once Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash return.
Cleveland Cavaliers at LA Clippers – 12:30pm ABC: Enough talent on display to make you stop you Sunday yard work and camp out in front of the TV.
NYCFC vs Toronto FC – 2pm ESPN2: Lot of star power on display and hopefully that means goals a plenty.
NCAA Selection Show – 2:30pm CBS: Who is in and who is out. Let the second phase of March Madness begin!
NY Rangers at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHLN: One of the best scoring teams in the league (Caps) go against one of the best defensive teams in the league (Rangers).
Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: Portland is coming on strong led by Damian Lillard but Toronto on a Friday night is very tough place to play.
Saturday March 5th
Tottenham vs Arsenal – 4:45am NBCSN: Great rivalry and it means a lot to who plays European soccer next year.
Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund – 9am FX: Last minute addition by FOX. Now people can watch probably the best matchup of the Bundesliga this season. Oh, Bayern has stumbled as of late too.
Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche – 12pm NHL.TV: These two are in a battle for the two wild card slots in the Western Conference.
Anaheim Ducks at LA Kings – 1pm NHL.TV: These two are neck and neck in the Pacific division…oh and they hate each other.
Iowa State at Kansas – 1pm ESPN: Kansas already has the Big 12 sown up but this one is all about seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
UNC at Duke – 3pm ESPN: Heck the last one they played came down to the last shot. This one should too.
Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins – 4pm NHLN: These two could meet in the first round of the playoffs as it stands right now.
Louisville at Virginia – 5:30pm ESPN: The Cards aren’t going to the NCAA Tournament due to a self imposed suspension so they are looking to trip up UVA on their way to a high seed.
UFC 196 – 7pm PPV: Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz and Holly Holm vs Miesha Tate. Good fights made even better by the fact none of these people really like each other.
Atlanta Hawks at LA Clippers – 7:30pm NBA League Pass: Forget for a second that both these teams are very, very good and think about Steve Ballmer dunking.
Sunday March 6th
Kobalt 400 – 12:30pm FOX: NASCAR heads to Las Vegas which is always a fun race to watch.
Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew -1:30pm ESPN: First game of the year and it is a rematch of 2015 MLS Cup. You can only imagine how much the Crew want to return the favor to the Timbers. Expect them to come out hard and fast and try to snag an early goal.
Maryland at Indiana – 1:30pm CBS: Indiana has a share of the Big Ten title and look to wrap up the whole enchilada.
NY Islanders at NY Rangers – 2pm NHL.TV: These two are within striking distance of each other and a win here could have dramatic consequences come playoff time.
Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders – 4pm FS1: Two of the better teams in MLS over the last few years and both have gone through some serious player overhauls. We’ll see what happens.
LA Galaxy vs DC United – 7pm UNIMAS: The Galaxy have some big superstars like Keene, Gerrard and Cole. But DC United is has some outstanding talent as well.
St Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild – 5pm NBCSN: The Wild are fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot and the Blues have struggled a little lately. They need to turn it around to keep their spot.
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions – 9:30am FOX: Well, we’d like a better matchup but hey, it’s what we got.
Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys – 1:30pm CBS: The Cowboys have Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back so this could actually be a good game.
Texas Tech at Texas – 4:30pm FS1: Texas has to win out to be bowl eligible and that’s a big deal for a young team. Texas Tech is good but beatable.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 5:30pm NBC: Awaken from the food coma in time to see if they Packers can win back-to-back games or if the Bears will finally put it together.
Friday November 27th
NY Rangers at Boston Bruins – 10am NBC: Ice, skates, rivals. Not a bad way to start Black Friday.
Navy at Houston – 9am ABC: Winner gets to represent the West in the American Atheletic Conference championship. Also get a chance to see the NCAA all time leader in touchdowns in Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.
Marshall at Western Kentucky – 9am FS1: Last year the final score was 67-66. Just sayin.
Washington State at Washington -12:30pm FOX: The Apple Cup is the most underrated rivalry in college football. Always a solid game.
Iowa at Nebraska – 12:30pm ABC: Nebraska is a lot better than there 5-6 record indicates. Iowa is undefeated and looking for a spot in the College Football Playoff. This rivalry will get a lot more heated after this game.
Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks – 2pm NBCSN: Both teams are better than their record indicates and still a whole bunch of talent on the ice.
Baylor at TCU – 4:30pm ESPN: It doesn’t really matter what quarterback plays for Baylor but it does for TCU. Points a plenty in this one.
Miami Heat at NY Knicks – 4:30pm NBA.TV: The Kicks aren’t bad this season but the Heat may be a little bit better.
Saturday November 28th
Ohio State at Michigan – 9am ABC: Our first taste of Meyer vs Harbaugh. Add in Ohio State having to put a tough loss behind them and this should be one heck of a ball game.
Louisville at Kentucky – 9am SECN: Kentucky is one win away from bowl eligibility and their cross state rivals would love nothing more than to keep that from happening.
UCLA at USC – 12:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Battle of LA and for the Pac-12 South.
Penn State at Michigan State -12:30pm ESPN: Michigan State controls it’s own destiny when it comes to winning the Big 10 Eastern division.
Wisconsin at Minnesota – 12:30pm BTN: Dude, it’s the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe! It also gives us a chance to show this video from 2003.
Ole Miss at Mississippi State – 4:15pm ESPN2: The Egg Bowl and if Alabama loses, a chance for Ole Miss to grab the SEC West crown.
Notre Dame at Stanford -4:30pm FOX: Huge game for the Irish against a very, very good Stanford team.
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State – 5pm ABC: Bedlam is here. Winner probably has a legit shot at the College Football Playoff.
Sunday November 29th
NY Giants at Washington Redskins – 10am FOX: The winner controls first place in the NFC East.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks – 1:25pm CBS: Steelers have been able to keep it together and succeed despite a rash of injuries. The Seahawks looked like the Seahawks for once this season last week. Good luck hearing the play call Pittsburgh.
FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers – 2pm ESPN: 2nd leg and Dallas got an all important road goal in leg one. They did lose 3-1 however which should put the Timbers in the drivers seat.
103rd Grey Cup – 3pm ESPN2: Live from Winnipeg with Fall Out Boy as the halftime entertainment. Oh its the Edmonton Eskimos vs Ottawa RedBlacks.
NY Red Bulls vs Columbus Crew – 4:30pm FS1: The Crew won first the first leg 2-0. NYRB has it’s work cut out for them if they want to advance to MLS Cup.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: The best offense in football goes against the best defense. More or less. Broncos start Brock Osweiler for a second straight week.
Montreal Canadiens at NY Islanders – 4:30pm NHL GameCenter: The Habs have cooled off and the Islanders are a tough team.
Cincinnati at South Florida – 5pm CBSN: Hey, we love watching the Bearcats. They have a tendency to score a lot of points or go down in flames.
Air Force at Boise State- 6:30pm ESPN2: A battle that will determine the winner of the Mountain division of the MWC.
Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: This could arguably be a Finals preview.
Saturday November 21st
Michigan at Penn State – 9am : Our first taste of Harbaugh vs Franklin.
Memphis at Temple – 9am ESPNU: While both teams have suffered losses in recent weeks, they are still two fun football teams to watch.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona -9am beIN Sports: Only a match up between the two biggest clubs in the world. No big deal.
Manchester City vs Liverpool – 9:30am NBC: Liverpool sits 11 points behind City but has a new manager and new hope.
Lafayette at Lehigh – 9:30am ESPN3: The 151st meeting between the two schools which is the longest in collegiate football. There is a reason they call it ‘The Rivalry’.
Montana at Montana State – 11am ROOT Sports: 115th matchup between the two schools. Montana looks to keep their FCS Playoff hopes alive with a victory here.
Harvard at Yale – 11:30am NBCSN: IVY League title is on the line since Harvard lost last week to Penn. Harvard gets a share if they win and Yale would love nothing more than to spoil that. There is a reason this one is called ‘The Game.’
Michigan State at Ohio State – 1:30pm ABC: No big deal just National Title implications.
UCLA at Utah – 1:30pm FOX: PAC-12 South implications and two pretty good football teams.
Arizona at Arizona State – FS1 : The 2015 edition of the Territorial Cup. Bowl eligibility is on the line for the Sun Devils.
Baylor at Oklahoma State – 4:30pm FOX : OSU looks to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive but they will have to find a way to outscore Baylor.
TCU at Oklahoma – 5pm ABC: Oklahoma has battled their way back after that loss to Texas to be one of the more dangerous teams in the land. This is a tall order but TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin may not be 100% & they lost their best wide receiver.
Cal at Stanford – 7:30pm ESPN:The Big Game is a big one once again. Both teams have played well this year and Stanford is also looking to wrap up the Pac 12 North. And with all of the wacky finishes this year in college football, it will be nice to end a long day of football with a game that gave birth to crazy finishes.
Cotto vs Canelo – 8pm-ish PPV: Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez in boxing’s second super fight of the year. In all honesty, this one should be a better one too.
Sunday November 22nd
Tottenham vs West Ham United – 8am NBCSN: Both are sitting just outside the top four and are only separated by goal differential.
Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears – 10am CBS: Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning will ride the bench for the Broncos as they take on their former head coach John Fox.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa RedBlacks – 10am ESPNEWS: Winner goes to the Grey Cup. Combination of rain and snow is expected.
NASCAR Ford Ecoboost 400 – Noon NBC: Last race of the year and maybe, just maybe Jeff Gordon can go out on top with a win and the cup.
Toronto Raptors at LA Clippers – 12:30pm NBA League Pass: Raptors are on a West Coast swing and visit Lob City.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings – 1:30pm FOX: Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC while the Packers are slipping. Can the Pack turn it around?
Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos – 1:30pm ESPN3: Not only does the winner go to the Grey Cup but it’s also the Battle of Alberta.
Columbus Crew vs NY Red Bulls – 2pm ESPN: Leg one to decide the Eastern Conference rep in MLS Cup.
Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas – 4:30pm FS1: Western Conference Final and it starts in the best venue in all of MLS. There Ain’t No Pity In the Rose City.
Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals – 5:30pm NBC: Cards held on last week in Seattle while the Bengals put up their first loss of the season against the Texans on Monday Night. Rebound in the desert is a tough task for Andy Dalton and crew.
When MLS announced the long sought after second New York franchise, New York City FC (NYCFC), we expressed our doubts and drew similarities to another same city franchise, Chivas USA, that eventually folded. We are sad to say that NYCFC is pretty much following in the same footsteps as Chivas USA. Footsteps that will lead to it being the laughing stock of MLS.
Last time an ownership group that owned another prominent international football club expanded into MLS it was called Chivas USA. They had the lowest attendance in MLS last season, currently have no regional TV deal, and have been constantly pointed to as one of the worst run clubs in MLS. When they originally came into the league they wanted to use Chivas USA as a farm team for Chivas Guadalajara. Now they are rumored to be on the selling block.
Chivas folded shortly there after. Now NYCFC is laying a similar foundation that Chivas did.
NYCFChas brought in players pass their prime (David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, and Frank Lampard). Granted these are some great players and even after they’ve lost a step they are still pretty damn good. However, they weren’t even together for a full season. Lampard was kept by the parent club, Manchester City, for the entire 2014-2015 season and Pirlo didn’t show up until sometime in July. So manager Jason Kreis had about half a season to work them into the club.
In the spirit of ‘Chivas’, NYCFC fired Kreis after one season. Kreis was, at one point, the all time goal scorer in MLS, helped build a powerhouse in Real Salt Lake and took it to two MLS Cups, winning one of those trips. Apparently he should have melded Pirlo and Lampard into the club better in the 3 months he had with them.
Kreis was set up for failure. Claudio Reyna is the Director of Football Operations for NYCFC. Let’s be honest about Reyna, he has little experience in the role and it’s pretty obvious that Manchester City is pulling the strings from England. How do we know this? Patrick Vieira was appointed to replace Kreis. A man, while a legend in the football community, has never played a second in MLS and has zero experience in the league. A league that is considered very physical and has a travel schedule that Vieira has never dealt experience. Not to mention that the league plays in four timezones, at elevation and various climates.
If NYCFC really wants to win in MLS then you have to examine how other successful MLS franchises have done it. Teams like the LA Galaxy, DC United, Sporting KC and the San Jose Earthquakes. All of whom have hoisted MLS Cup multiple times. Yes, they have had their lulls but overall, they have been pretty successful MLS franchises.
To get to more specific, how about this: First, get a coach who has MLS experience either as a player or as a coach. The four teams left in the playoffs, their manager was a former player in the league. Don’t do what Chivas did which was change a coach every year (they went through nine not counting the ‘interim’ folks), use your designated players on people who will help your team and not just sell tickets. Finally, find some patience.
There is a whole lot of time left for NYCFC to do the right thing and become a successful MLS franchise. They are currently not doing any of it but when there is this much money involved (they paid MLS $500 million to get into the league) you would have to imagine that they will figure it out eventually. Unfortunately for the supports, eventually may be a few years off.
BYU at San Jose State – 8:30pm CBSSN: SJSU running back Tyler Ervin is a stud. He has almost 1200 yards rushing already this season and 12 TD’s. BYU are some tough dudes though. Last thing they want is for this guy to run wild on ’em.
Saturday November 7th
Penn State at Northwestern – 9am ESPNU: Big Ten match up with poll position for a decent bowl game on the line.
Duke at North Carolina – 9am ESPN2: UNC is getting no love this year and Duke is coming off of that bad referring loss to Miami. Is there a hangover for Duke?
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh – 9am ABC: All Pitt is doing is winning. Yes they are coming off of a tough loss to UNC but they are hard nosed football team. Notre Dame is going to get all it wants from the Panthers.
Florida State at Clemson – 12:30pm ABC: Clemson is the number 1 team in the land. Florida State doesn’t care.
TCU at Oklahoma State – 12:30pm FOX: TCU is getting no love…even with the number 2 offense in the country. The over/under is 78. We vote to take the over.
Cincinnati at Houston – 1:30m ESPN2: These two teams rank 5th and 7th in total offense at the FBS level. That alone is a reason to watch.
Navy at Memphis – 4pm ESPN2: Navy is 6-1 with the NCAA All Time touchdown king in quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Memphis is shooting for a big time bowl bid. Should be whoever has the ball last wins.
Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens – 4pm NHLN: Original 6 matchup.
LSU at Alabama – 5pm CBS: Two teams that are currently in the College Football Playoff.
Sunday November 8th
Arsenal vs Tottenham – 7:55am NBCSN: A North London Derby for your Sunday morning.
Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers – 10am CBS: Man, can’t believe the Raiders are a must watch team. This could be the best game of the day.
Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers – 10am FOX: Packers got exposed last week in Denver. Now they have to rebound on the road against another undefeated team.
DC United vs NY Red Bulls – Noon ESPN: Red Bulls got the always valuable road goal so they look to be in good shape in this one.
Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas – 4:30pm FS1: First game was a 1-1 draw which gives Dallas the advantage heading into the second leg.
Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 7pm FS1: Like the Seattle vs FC Dallas game, the first game was a draw and that should give the Whitecaps the advantage here.
Abby Wambachwas the best. We say ‘was’ because she announced this week that she will retire from the game after the USWNT December 16th game against China. Currently she has had 252 appearances on the international stage and 184 goals. Hats off to the best.
FOX did rally well and was tapped into the MLB feed a few minutes later so the game could continue.
Yes they did delay the game.
Shootout To Ends All Shootouts
If you didn’t watch the shootout in the MLS Cup Playoff knockout match between Portland and Sporting KC then stop what you are doing and click on the video below. It was unbelievable, un….everything. That includes breaking the laws of physics.
Yeah, That Shouldn’t Have Counted
Please see image to the right. Looks amazing right? Ok, now go watch the video below. We count a knee down of a Miami player before he pitched the ball, three blocks in the back (only one drew a referee’s flag & was reviewed which isn’t reviewable but officials didn’t enforce it anyway), a Miami player running onto the field towards the end of the play from the sidelines with his helmet off (too many men on the field and a player with helmet off are both penalties) and the replay officials are like, ‘yeah looks fine. Want to go to the Halloween party?’ To be fair….no there really isn’t fair here. Duke got screwed.
The End Of The Project
ESPN shuttered Grantland. The long format mix of sports and entertainment started by now ex – ESPN employee Bill Simmons had a lot of twists and turns. It, ironically enough, deserves its own ESPN 30 for 30. The sight did prove two important things: One person is not more powerful than a Disney subsidiary & long format content can work in the era of 140 character limits.